Computer Speakers Buying Guide
Once you have a quality sound card – whether inbuilt or purchased additionally – you can get down to buying the best computer speakers for your needs. For this, you have to understand your requirements and budget first. A set of high-quality speakers can set you back by over $200, while you can get an ‘adequately’ functional speaker system for less than $50.
For audiophiles, nothing less than a 5.1 speaker system would do, though a set of quality 2.1 computer speakers would be quite adequate as well. Hardcore gamers would do well to invest in a surround sound system as it would provide the highest level of immersion into the gaming experience. Musicians and hobby recording artists should invest in a set of studio monitors. These are a typically a set of 2.0 speakers with a strong bass output. They do not have any inbuilt equalizer, so you get the most faithful reproduction of your reproductions and can adjust the mix levels accordingly.
For regular users, a simple 2.0 speaker setup, or a mid-range 2.1 system would be more than adequate. Your choice would, of course, be influenced by your budget. A surround sound system would be decidedly more expensive than a 2.0 set-up.
As far as technical specifications are concerned, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:
The human ear can hear sounds up to 20,000 Hz. The greater the frequency range of the computer speakers, the better the audio reproduction. Typically, a good system will have ratings from 10 Hz to 20,000 Hz, ensuring that you get the best rendition of low (bass) as well as high frequencies.
Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR)
Signal to Noise Ratio or SNR is a measurement of how much a signal has been corrupted by noise. To understand it in layman terms, think of it as the ratio of the amount of useful information (signal) passing through as compared to the useless bits (noise). The greater this ratio, the less the signal corruption.
All you need to understand is that higher SNR numbers translate into better audio reproduction. SNR is measured in decibels (dB). Speakers are typically rated at 65 dB, 75 dB, 90 dB, etc. You should try to get a speaker system with as high an SNR number as possible.
The best computer speakers should have a single pin audio input. They should be compatible with your laptop, iPod, desktop, etc.
The best computer speakers would have buttons, knobs, etc. for controlling the audio built directly on the speakers themselves. These can range from knobs for controlling the bass, volume, treble, etc. along with power on/off buttons, etc.
Although your computer speakers aren’t expected to take too much damage, you should nevertheless invest in something that can last you a few years. Higher quality speakers have woofers made out of denser materials like glass fiber, Kevlar, etc. This provides deeper, richer sound reproduction.
If your system has a woofer, it should ideally be housed in dense, thick wood for optimum performance.
Appearance is something that varies from individual to individual. Remember that you’ll spend a lot of time before your computer, staring at the speakers. Getting something that is visually pleasing should be a consideration, albeit a not too important one.
Best Desktop Speakers
1. Onyx Mini Portable Wireless Speaker
Bluetooth compatible, the Onyx mini portable wireless speaker carries a big punch in a small package. Manufactured by Harman/kardon, model # LYSB01MSHLOFG-CMPTRACCS, it has rechargeable batteries, dual sound 8-watt speakers, and a microphone. Crisp, quality sound in a compact size at an affordable price.
2. Multimedia Speakers w/ Subwoofer
Manufactured by Radio Shack, model # 4005420, this multimedia speaker has an adaptability to virtually any PC or Mac computer and multiple devices (such as tablets and mobile devices). Four inch enclosed subwoofers add to the amazing quality for such a small speaker set. Black color, headphone jack ready, and magnet shield to reduce interference.
3. USB Audio Stereo Desktop Speakers for Computer Laptop
Perfect for enhancing sound from a computer laptop, these desktop speakers are USB ready. Model # LYSB00NQU2X2E-CMPTRACCS, it supports 3-D Surround sound, blue colored, and encased in plastic. Highly affordable for the level of sound volume given.
4. Edifier Active Bookshelf Speakers
You’ll be amazed by these Active Bookshelf Speakers that give a powerful, calibrated sound each use. Manufactured by Edifier, these four-inch speakers (model # R980T) are lightweight, include all necessary cables (including an AUX input), and a smooth sleek wood casing appearance. Powered by electricity. Made to work with most computer devices.
5. Personal Dynamic Stereo Speakers
Super lightweight at just over 15 ounces, these personal stereo speakers are compact and easy to carry around. Manufactured by COBY, model # CS-P34, it’s gray in color and only 2.5″ high. Whether in your office or around the home, these affordably-priced speakers carry a punch.
6. Universal Bluetooth Waterproof Mini Portable Speaker
This speaker set really does seem to have it all. Wireless, waterproof, good for indoor and outdoor use, Bluetooth capable, compact, and portable – these mini speakers are ready to go wherever you do. It even comes equipped with its own rechargeable lithium battery as a power source. Manufactured by Maxmore, the model # on these speakers is LYSB01I15A7BC-CMPTRACCS.
7. TopePop USB Powered Computer Speaker
Uniquely powered via USB capability, these computer speakers have an elegant appearance, adjustable volume, and no need for a driver. Manufactured by TopePop, model # LYSB019SUEKCG-ELECTRNCS, these speakers are USB compatible, ready to adapt to multiple computer devices,
8. TDK I’MASpeaker
This product is one of a kind – a portable, fully amplified stereo speaker set in a full CD Case. The unique look doesn’t diminish the quality, and the price is definitely affordable. Manufactured by TDK I’MASpeaker, model number PSCDSK24, it’s powered by electric but also has 4 AA batteries that are included at purchase.
9. Brookstone Desktop Speakers
These desktop speakers sync with Bluetooth compatible devices (including mobile phones) and have an impressive volume level for such an affordable price. Manufactured by Brookstone, these speakers are only a pound and a half and are versatile to whatever you need to hear. Clarity of sound, surprising volume, and a compact size all work together to make these speakers a great value.
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